Comrades Marathon 1931 remembered

Attached is a copy of the 1931 Comrades Marathon “race flier”. The public holiday on which the Comrades was run, until the declaration of the Republic, in 1961,  was 24th May, Empire Day, which was a Sunday that year. Therefore the race took place on the Monday after.

2011 is the 90th anniversary of that first race. In those early days, the athletics federations governed cycling as well, hence the reason that so many older athletics tracks are/were encompassed by a cycling track.

2011 is also the  80th anniversary of Carbineer Phill Masterton – Smith’s win in the Comrades Marathon.

Phill Masterton-Smith is the youngest ever winner of the Comrades, at the age of 19 at that time, having finished second, less than 200 metres behind the great Wally Hayward, in 1930, at the age of 18. This record will surely not be beaten as the minimum age for participation, nowadays, is twenty, on the day of the race.

In 1932 he finished 6th.

This year, four young Carbineer Athletes, John McInroy, Paul Blake and the van Zyl brothers, Lourens and Wynand (“WP” to his friends and the only one with a Comrades finish to his credit), will be setting off from Cape Town, on the 19th May, to emulate Masterton-Smith’s epic journey in 1933. That year, resident in Cape Town and unable to afford the train fare to Pietermaritzburg, young Phill rode a bicycle from the Mother City to arrive the day before the start in Pietermaritzburg. He then finished in tenth position in a time of eight hours.

These four young men, and many other Carbineers, are members of the social networking site which is, itself, founded in a distant military story of friends wishing to remember each other and “be together in spirit”. Redsockfriday has aligned itself to the Pink Drive as a Cancer Awareness campaigner and the efforts of these Carbineers will be raising money for these charities.

When these young men and their entourage arrive at Comrades House on Saturday morning, 28th May, we would invite all Carbineers and their families to join us in welcoming them and congratulating them on the achievement of the first leg of this amazing duathlon – code name – UNOGWAJA (Phill Masterton-Smith’s nickname meaning Rabbit or Hare because of the free spirited running he did on his parents’ farm in the foothills of the Drakensberg ). You’ll be able to find Unogwaja and redsockfriday and get updates on the web sites,, or

Phill Masterton – Smith gave his life, in 1942, in service of the Natal Carbineers (then Royal Natal Carbineers) and his country, in the Western Desert in the North African Campaign of World War II.

 “When you go home, tell them of us and say, ‘For their tomorrows – we gave our today’.”


John Hall

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